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Timelapses for a Netflix Mushroom Documentary Took 15 Years to Create

Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg has been creating timelapses of different fungi over the course of the last 15 years as part of his film Fantastic Fungi. In a video with Wired, he explains how he creates these epic sequences.

Fantastic Fungi is a 2019 film directed by Louie Schwartzberg that has been recently added to Netflix. Schwartzberg describes it as “a consciousness-shifting film” that takes viewers on an immersive journey through time and scale into the wild world of fungus that lives underground and is connected in a network that some argue can heal and save the planet. In it, Schwartzberg shows the vast variety of fungus, from those that are edible to those that kill, and from mushrooms that can clear oil spills to those that help trees communicate.

“Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors like Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions that fungi kingdom offers in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.

In an interview with Wired, Schwartzberg reveals that he doesn’t create the sequences in his timelapses in ways that most people expect.

“I think the biggest surprise for people watching the film is that they think it’s all filmed outdoors,” he says. “There are a lot of reasons why you can’t film timelapses of plants and fungi outdoors. Number one: there is wind, which would make the object shake and rattle and look like a Charlie Chaplain movie. Number two: there are bugs and other elements that would interfere with filming.”

Schwartzberg says that in order to make his dreamy sequences, the light has to be constant. Outdoors — even during the day — the light fluctuates. In order to fully control his shots, he built a studio on top of his garage. Even in a controlled environment, getting his shots is complex and time-consuming.

“I am shooting one frame every 15 minutes, that means I’m shooting four frames an hour, times 24, is 96 frames. 96 frames is four seconds of film,” he explains.

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Schwartzberg has a custom intervalometer that not only triggers his camera but also his grow lights as well as his photo lights, which he uses to create his scenes. He is able to program the lights to mimic different times of day. The reason he needs to have his grow lights connected to the intervalometer is that he needs to simulate a real environment. If the lights are on all the time, for example, the mushrooms will die.

Because the mushrooms are always expanding during their growth, Schwartzberg has to imagine his composition and framing before they rise out of the ground, which complicates the process further.

“I would say roughly the ratio of success to failure is about one out of six, maybe one out of ten,” he says. “It’s extremeluy difficult to do.”

Some Benefits of Mushrooms for Health

Thanks to its abundant nutritional content, there are various benefits of mushrooms that you can feel if you consume them regularly, including:

1. Prevent cancer
Mushrooms contain high antioxidants , which act as body protectors in warding off cancer-causing free radicals. In addition to antioxidants, the beta glucan content in mushrooms can also prevent cancer, such as colon cancer and cervical cancer .

2. Maintaining the health of jant ung
In addition to preventing cancer, the content of antioxidants and beta glucan in mushrooms can also prevent heart disease . Mushrooms are also rich in B vitamins, which play an important role in maintaining heart health .

3. Boost immunity
The content of beta glucan in mushrooms is also good for boosting immunity . In addition, mushrooms are also a good source of prebiotics for the digestive tract and inhibit the growth of disease-causing pathogens.

4. Lowers cholesterol levels in the blood
The beta glucan in mushrooms is a good source of soluble fiber . Research shows that beta glucan can lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood, even in small amounts.

In addition, the potassium in mushrooms is known to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood.

5. Maintain healthy muscles and nerves
Potassium contained in mushrooms also plays a role in helping muscles and nerves work. In addition, mushrooms also contain copper which plays an important role in maintaining healthy nerves.

6. Maintain bone health
Some types of mushrooms are cultivated using UV light to increase the vitamin D content in them. Vitamin D itself is a nutrient that is very important in maintaining bone health.

7. Lower the risk of diabetes
Due to the high fiber content, mushrooms can be beneficial in lowering the risk of developing diabetes . In addition, mushrooms can also help you control and lose weight.

In addition to some of the benefits of mushrooms above, foods that are often processed in vegetarian dishes can also improve brain function, lower high blood pressure, and maintain a healthy digestive system.